Leo Durocher

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Leo Durocher

Baseball's Prodigal Son

Paul Dickson

386 pages
25 photographs, index

Paperback

April 2023

978-1-4962-3523-7

$24.95 Pre-order

About the Book

Leo Durocher (1905–1991) was baseball’s all-time leading cocky, flamboyant, and galvanizing character, casting a shadow across several eras, from the time of Babe Ruth to the Space Age Astrodome, from Prohibition through the Vietnam War. For more than forty years, he was at the forefront of the game, with a Zelig-like ability to be present as a player or manager for some of the greatest teams and defining baseball moments of the twentieth century. A rugged, combative shortstop and a three-time All-Star, he became a legendary manager, winning three pennants and a World Series in 1954.

Durocher performed on three main stages: New York, Chicago, and Hollywood. He entered from the wings, strode to where the lights were brightest, and then took a poke at anyone who tried to upstage him. On occasion he would share the limelight, but only with Hollywood friends such as actor Danny Kaye, tough guy and sometime roommate George Raft, Frank Sinatra, and Durocher’s third wife, movie star Laraine Day.

Dickson explores Durocher’s life and times through primary source materials, interviews with those who knew him, and original newspaper files. A superb addition to baseball literature, Leo Durocher offers fascinating and fresh insights into the racial integration of baseball, Durocher’s unprecedented suspension from the game, the two clubhouse revolts staged against him in Brooklyn and Chicago, and his vibrant life off the field.

Author Bio

Paul Dickson is the author of more than sixty-five nonfiction books, including more than a dozen on baseball. He is the author of the Dickson Baseball Dictionary, named by the Wall Street Journal as one of the five best baseball books ever written, Bill Veeck: Baseball’s Greatest Maverick, winner of the Casey Award from SABR, and The Hidden Language of Baseball: How Signs and Sign-Stealing Have Influenced the Course of Our National Pastime (Nebraska, 2019).

Praise

“An unflinching portrait of a brilliant bastard. Mr. Dickson gives the devil his due and leaves no doubt why so many people could respect Durocher’s baseball genius and still hate his guts.”—Wall Street Journal
 

“[Paul Dickson] does a great job of capturing the two sides of Durocher, the brilliant manager and the man who hung out with Frank Sinatra and liked to gamble. It’s an excellent book and the chapters focusing on Durocher’s handling of Jackie Robinson and his overall tenure with the Dodgers are must-read for Dodgers fans.”—Los Angeles Times
 

“The book is worth reading twice just to see what you may have missed the first time. . . . Enjoy it and be grateful we have Paul [Dickson] among us.”—Tom Hoffarth, Los Angeles Daily News

“An entertaining book about a truly unique character.”—Chicago Tribune
 

“The biography by a veteran sportswriter makes a case for the cocky and combative star shortstop and legendary manager as both charming and insufferable, which sounds about right for the guy who both championed Jackie Robinson’s arrival in Brooklyn and insulted him as fat and slow.”—Bill Littlefield, Boston Globe

“[A] well researched, smoothly written biography of a complex man.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Paul Dickson, baseball historian and biographer[,] packs Durocher’s story with enough great stories and colorful anecdotes to fill ten normal books.”—Dallas Morning News
 

“[A] well researched, page-turning book.”—Bob D’Angelo, Books and Blogs
 

“The racial integration of the game, which Durocher long advocated, is the book’s crucial secondary story, and it is deftly handled.”—Booklist

“Dickson takes one mighty biographical swing at Leo Durocher, a colorful baseball player and manager. Durocher was a loudmouthed brawler, ladies’ man, fine coach, and coiner of the expression: ‘nice guys finish last.’”—Dayton Daily News

Table of Contents

1. Pregame
2. Enfant Terrible
3. Damned Yankee
4. The Red Menace
5. Gashouse Tough
6. The Artful Dodger
7. Mutiny in Flatbush
8. Game Changer
9. Exiled
10. Over the River
11. Miracle Man
12. Hollywood Dodger
13. The Contentious Cub
14. Endgame
15. The Rocky Road to Cooperstown
     Acknowledgments
     Bibliography
     Notes
     Index

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